Occupational Therapy Undergraduate Programs

Occupational therapy professions are among the most lucrative and rewarding in the business world. Not only are you likely to find a growing number of employment opportunities with generous salaries, but you also have the ability to help your patients improve their quality of life. Occupational therapists average about $75,000 in annual salary (CNN Money) and this profession has only about a two percent unemployment rate compared to almost eight percent in the wider professional world.

Becoming an Occupational Therapist or Occupational Therapy Assistant begins with an undergraduate education. There are almost 317 schools in the United States with the necessary Associate’s, Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctor’s programs required to practice or teach in the OT profession. In order to prepare for a job as a Licensed Occupational Therapist, you must possess a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, while Occupational Therapy Assistants need only an Associate’s degree.

What Occupational Therapists Do

Occupational Therapists and Occupational Therapy Assistants are hands on clinicians who assist patients recover or develop functionality. This may include range of motion, coordination, strengthening and pain management modalities. OTs and OTAs may work in a medical, workplace, or school setting and interact with patients from all types of backgrounds.

Curriculum for an Associate’s Degree in Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy Assistants must enroll in a two year degree program that is accredited by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) or the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) to meet national and state requirements. These two year programs often require you to complete a set of basic courses that will provide you with essential skills necessary to function in the challenging medical environment of occupational therapy. These basic courses typically include:

  • Human Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Fundamentals of Public Speaking
  • Written Composition
  • Psychology
  • Mathematics

Once you have completed your basic college courses, you will be required to complete a certain number of core courses that will introduce you to the occupational therapy profession. These may include

  • Human Movement
  • Psychosocial Performance
  • Therapeutic Modalities
  • Pediatrics Occupational Therapy

In addition to a set of courses that must be completed in the classroom, you will be required to enroll in a clinical internship where you will engage in OT practices with actual patients.

Curriculum for a Bachelor’s Degree in Occupational Therapy

The education necessary for an Occupational Therapist is considerably more rigorous than that necessary for an OTA. You must complete an undergraduate degree program that is at least four years in length. Many ACOTE accredited schools permit their students to combine their undergraduate degrees with a Master’s program which can be completed in only five years.

The typical baccalaureate occupational therapy program will include two years of courses which will provide you with a wide set of skills necessary to succeed as an Occupational Therapist. These may include

  • Biology
  • Human Anatomy
  • Biochemistry
  • Computers and Information Technology
  • Psychology

Once you have obtained the basic skills and knowledge, you will be required to study subjects that are essential to the practice of occupational therapy including:

  • Neuroscience
  • Kinesiology
  • Human Development
  • Clinical Management in OT

In addition to a rigorous set of academic courses, you will be required to participate in occupational therapy work in a clinical setting.